When the Boy Scouts decided to revisit their policy of excluding gays boys from the organization, they did an extensive survey of Scouts and former Scouts, adult volunteers and parents in and out of scouting, and the general population. While the adult volunteers supported retaining the policy, everyone else backed a change. The Scouts changed.
Similarly, the Republican Party has been confronted with a challenge to its official support of a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman. A slim majority of Republicans and Republican-leaning Independents now support same-sex marriage. In their new survey, the College Republicans have found that only 30 percent of young people support legally restricting marriage to one man and one woman, and that 26 percent say they wouldn’t vote for a candidate who opposes SSM even if they agree with the candidate on other issues.
But don’t look for the GOP to follow the Boy Scouts’ lead. The key institutional players for the Scouts are the Mormons, the Methodists, and the Catholics, which sponsor most of the troops in the country. All three have backed the change of policy.
The key institutional player for the Republicans are white evangelicals, who constitute 40 percent of the GOP coalition. It’s the white evangelicals who are pulling out of Scouting rather than acquiesce in a policy that merely accepts gay boys as Scouts. Alienating them by going wobbly on SSM is something the GOP can’t risk.